The Freedom to Read Statement is the best known of ALA's documents supporting the principles of intellectual freedom as embodied in the Library Bill of Rights. The Intellectual Freedom Committee is conducting a review of the document. ALA members are strongly encouraged to attend one or all of the upcoming listening sessions focused on revising the Freedom to Read statement. Five listening sessions will be held this fall, focused on specific themes:
Freedom to Read Listening Sessions:
- Wednesday, September 27, 1:30-3pm Central Time; Theme: First Amendment
- Thursday, October 5, 2-3:30pm Central Time; Theme: Disinformation and Misinformation
- Friday, October 13, 1:30-3pm Central Time; Theme: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
- Thursday, October 19, 2:30-4pm Central Time; Theme: Challenges to Materials and Authors
- Wednesday, October 25, 2-3:30pm Central Time: Theme: Youth Access to Materials
At these virtual sessions, attendees should plan to share their thoughts on how well the current statement addresses these themes and what changes may need to be made to the statement. The discussions will focus on big picture ideas, rather than wordsmithing the statement. Each session will also include a brief overview of what the Freedom to Read Statement is and how it has been revised in the past.
These sessions will be facilitated by members of the Intellectual Freedom Committee's task force focused on revising the statement. This subgroup is tasked with gathering ALA member input in the fall of 2023. This task force will summarize their findings, then submit the findings to the Office of Intellectual Freedom for consideration of incorporating findings in a revised Freedom to Read Statement.
The Freedom to Read Statement was first published on June 25, 1953, by the ALA and the American Book Publishers Council (the forerunner to the Association of American Publishers). It was published in response to censorship efforts that soared during the McCarthy era. It opens with an observation that is still relevant today—that while the freedom to read is essential to our democracy, it is continuously under attack. The Office of Intellectual Freedom reports that the total number of attempted book bans and restrictions in 2022 - more than 1,200 challenges - is nearly double what it was in 2021.